• Turfgrass Disease a 5 Headed Monster

    There are several factors that go into controlling turfgrass disease. The weather, your budget, knowledge and patience all play a role in the management of your sod. Weather plays a huge part in the outcome of your turf, its’ unpredictability and uncontrollable nature can sometimes work against you. Your budget and the expenses of maintaining a nice turfgrass can add up depending on the size and detail of the lawn and landscaping, the complexity of the disease, and how much you are willing or able to spend. Patience must be practiced when waiting for the end result of a pest and disease free lawn, which can sometimes be hard when we wish to see results quickly rather than after a much more likely several weeks. Lastly, more knowledge about maintaining a disease and pest free lawn will of course only help you reach your goals. Your ability to control the outcome of your lawn is much better if you know the conditions that cause the development of diseases, how they affect lawns and how the damage they cause can be controlled.

    Continuous management of your turfgrass is the best way to keep it free of diseases. This includes proper fertilization, correct irrigation and watering, correct mowing height, appropriate maintenance tools, placement in full sun, distance from other plants, and use of disease resistant turf cultivars. It is up to the homeowner to make sure all of these practices are in effect. Even if a homeowner has a landscaping crew maintaining their yard routinely, mowing and irrigation must still be monitored more often. Additionally, correct weed and insect control, aeration and thatch management will increase your chances of a successful lawn.

    It is important you accurately diagnosis your lawn problem before beginning maintenance. Time and money can be wasted if treatment has begun in haste and does not fix the problem. There are several different causes of lawn problems, such as fungus, poor drainage, weather, poor management and maintenance practices, and more. Most diseases will usually affect either the root of the grass or the blade. After taking a close, detailed look, you can usually see if the root has been damaged, or if the problems only occur on shoots.

    Prevention is always preferable over having to cure and maintain in the future. Preventative practices can help prevent a wide array of diseases rather than curing specific diseases as they show up. It is always useful to take advantage of disease resistant varieties. Making sure there is adequate soil aeration and percolation is also important, specifically when preventing root disease. Having continuous wet roots can cause infection and disease, so aerating is critical and seldom overdone. Timing is also an important step when implementing disease control processes, taking into consideration things such as whether the turf is cool or warm-season. Patience, knowledge and effort will go a long way in disease prevention and help aid in decreasing the need for curative and maintenance efforts.

  • What is Water Star Rated Seed?

    Water Star is a trademark of Pennington Seed given to qualified seed that has been tested by the Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance (TWCA) and proven to use significantly less water. This independent and external testing by the TWCA offers results that are objectively based on computer analysis, which includes the analysis of digital images, density and green turf cover. These results are highly reputable, permanently recorded and calculate the overall quality of the turf.

    The TWCA is a non-profit organization that was developed to test and give the stamp of approval to drought-resistant turfgrass varieties. The TWCA works side by side with various universities to rigorously test and conduct trials on different types of turfgrass and their drought resistance. The trials consist of data collected twice a week over the course of two years. The turfgrass is contained in structures where natural rainfall is constricted, and digital images capture and aid in the analysis of the percentage of green turf cover for each section of grass. After all the data is collected and analyzed, it is submitted to the independent research board of TWCA, who then notifies Pennington Seed of the qualified Water Star varieties.

    More specifically, trials are conducted to evaluate exactly how much water different varieties of turfgrass require. The turfgrass is placed under chronic drought stress conditions where water is available in limited amounts necessary to uphold the acceptable level of green in the turf. Plots of turfgrass are given a 1/2 inch of water when each plot falls below 40% green cover. After 90 days, the total amounts of water for each turfgrass section are compared and provided to Pennington Seed, where only top-quality, water-efficient turfgrass seed is offered. For example, one type of turfgrass required 16,613 gallons of water to maintain a 5,000 square foot lawn over a 90 day period, compared to a Water Star qualified, drought tolerant seed that required only 7,788 gallons of water to maintain the same square footage over the same 90 day period. This proves the Water Star claim of requiring up to 50% less water year after year.

    With the current drought in California (2014), the results of these trials are significant as we are continuously faced with water shortage and restrictions. Water Star qualified seed can not only survive limited water availability, but can also maintain overall plant health, essential qualities for anyone looking to maintain turfgrass in drought conditions.

  • Tips On Watering Your Lawn in A Drought

    When facing a drought like we have this past winter season in California, anyone with lush, green grass is looking for ways to help protect their lawn from the effects of the drought. There may be slight differences depending on the type of soil and type of grass you have, but there are tips that can help anyone faced with troubleshooting solutions to watering during a drought year.

    • Keep weeds to a minimum as they will steal the vital nutrients and water from the rest of your lawn.
    • Aerating your lawn will help it retain the water that it does receive, especially if the soil is compacted. This also promotes root growth.
    • Watch for over-spraying onto sidewalks and adjust nozzles if needed.
    • Watch for water run-off. Depending on the type of soil and the application rate of the irrigation system, run-off can happen quickly. If water isn't given the proper amount of time to soak into the soil, it will run off the lawn and be wasted. Set up a Cycle and Soak to prevent excessive run-off.
    • Mow your grass often (weekly), removing no more than 1/3 of the blade at a time. Leave the blades at proper grass height. Each sod type has a different mowing height. Don't mow when the soil is wet, as this can compact the soil. Mulching lawn clippings can help lessen water evaporation and provide small amounts of nitrogen to the soil.
    • Water early in the morning when temperatures are cooler. Watering later in the day will cause water to evaporate in the heat.
    • Install or switch to low-volume irrigation, such as low-flow nozzles. Lower application rates mean less run-off, and there is often a 10%-30% drop in water usage. Low-flow heads often run a little longer than traditional ones, but in the end they are much more efficient at conserving water. Low-volume irrigation produces smaller droplet sizes which allows water to penetrate deeper into the ground and get down to the root zones.
    • It is better for the overall health of a lawn to water infrequently (not every day) but deeply enough to wet the soil to the recommended depth. This reduces disease, helps air to move to the plant roots, and conserves water.
    • Watch for signs of stress in your lawn, including leaf blades rolling or folding, grass leaves turning a dull color, and footprints that remain in the grass after you walk across the lawn.
    • Maintain your lawn equipment. When mower blades are dull they tear grass blades, which stresses the lawn and can use more water to try to recover from that stress.

    It is important to remember that many types of grass can survive short periods of stress from drought; however, some types of grass can turn brown and go dormant. Depending on the severity of the drought, once rain returns or watering can begin again, the grass can recover, although it may take several months.

  • California's Drought

    To learn what you can do to keep your lawn looking great even during a drought, click here.


  • The Best Drought Tolerant Sod Type

    There is ever increasing concern over our depleting water sources. In addition to this concern, California has been faced with a serious drought this year. (2014) At SodLawn, we provide sod that is not only drought tolerant but also aids in water conservation. Some of our sod types require up to 30% less water and are constantly being developed to perform better under reduced and limited water sources. With the growing scrutiny on non-agriculture water usage, this is our sod, with Water Star Ratings, will soon be the standard of grass seed. Not only is the grass developed to withstand less water, but it is also able to stay healthy throughout those low water usage times. This sod has been tested by the Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance and has meet their stringent set of criteria . In addition to meeting the strict guidelines to conserve water, grasses such as Fescue and Kentucky bluegrass are continuously chosen for their thick, lush appearance and ability to maintain overall health.

    Bermuda grass is another option and is an excellent drought tolerant sod type. Hybrid Bermuda sod varieties such as Tifway, Tifgreen, Celebration, and A-G 1 Bermuda are all excellent choices. These varieties of sod are warm season sod types. These types of grasses go dormant in the winter in California because of our cooler temperatures in the winter. Some individuals choose to overseed their burmuda with Rye grass for winter color when the Bermuda turns dormant/brown. The deep root systems of Bermuda grass allows them to maintain better color when water is restricted, especially compared to other cool season varieties. Bermuda grass is by far the most drought tolerant grass on the market but because of the dormancy in the winter and the invasive nature of Bermuda grass, Fescue/ Bluegrass blends have been more popular of sod types.

    There are a few steps you can take to aid in your sod lawns resistance to drought and water restrictions:

    1. When mowing your lawn, mow your grass at a taller position, which will help establish deeper roots.
    2. Use a mulching mower as this will recycle nutrients back in to the soil.
    3. Keep weeds to a minimum as they will steal the vital nutrients and water from the rest of your sod lawn.
    4. If severe damage has been done to your lawn and there are areas that have completely died, you can always reseed those areas with water star seed.
    5. Aerating your lawn will help it retain the water that it does receive.
    6. Once your lawn has received adequate rainfall/water and isn't under such stress from water deprivation, you can aid in its restoration by fertilization. This will help the sod regain the nutrients it has lost and strengthen its root system. This strengthening is important as the rainy season ends and summer temperatures approach.

    When following these steps, along with choosing a drought tolerant sod type that is appropriate for your climate, you will have a greater likelihood of successfully maintaining a healthy lawn when faced with water restrictions and drought.

  • Sod Install and Care

    Anyone can lay their own sod lawn with the right tools and few pointers.

    Preparation is key. You want to make sure you clear the area where you will be laying your sod of any weeds and debris (rocks, cement, bricks, etc.). Next you will roughly grade the area with a hand rake, sloping the grade away from any foundations in order to aid in proper drainage. This usually uncovers more debris that need to be cleared. You can then till 3-4 inches deep, adding additional topsoil as needed blending native and new soil. This is important as it can help control weeds, help alleviate compacted soil, assist in root penetration and help air and water movement. End the preparation step by grading the entire area again, using a heavy duty rake, and rolling the area with a partially water filled lawn roller.

    Choosing the best sod depends on several factors. Your location is a major determining factor, such as whether or not you need a drought or heat tolerant sod, or would a cool-season or warm-season grass be best. Keeping in mind the specific location of where your sod will be is also important. Is there a lot of shaded areas, slopes, full sun, or possibly heavy traffic. Lastly, personal preference should also be considered. The look and feel of the blade will vary, along with the shade of green and if the sod stays green all year or goes dormant. Knowing your options and speaking with a professional can lead you to choosing a sod that will suit your needs best.

    Usually, sod should be installed on dry soil, but in cases of high temperatures, moistening the soil for about two or three minutes can be necessary. Whenever possible, install your sod on the day you receive it. If you must wait, the best thing to do is shade the uninstalled sod. Install your sod against a straight edge, like a sidewalk or driveway. Trying as much as possible to avoid gaps between pieces, as well as not overlapping or stretching, butt each piece against each other tightly. Lay the pieces in a brick pattern, staggering the joints in each row. When laying sod on a slope, lay the pieces across the slope rather than down. This will aid in minimizing water runoff and help retain even moisture. Last, you will want to roll over your new sod to help get rid of any air pockets. For the first two weeks it is best to avoid walking on your sod, this includes animals.

    Often, watering, or the lack of, is the cause of many sod problems. As soon as you lay your new sod you will need to soak the grass and soil, providing about 1 inch of water. It should be very wet, but only for this first watering. For the first two weeks, until the sod has established and is firmly rooted, you should water your lawn daily. Watering twice a day is typical, but sometimes a third time is needed depending on weather conditions such has high temperatures or high winds. You lawn should be left feeling moist after each watering. Finding the correct duration and frequency of watering specific to your lawn is critical in its establishment and long term health.

    Besides figuring out a good watering schedule, it is also helpful to testing your soils pH levels. Additionally, appropriate mowing and fertilizer application will aid in the establishment and care of your new sod lawn.

  • Bentgrass as a home lawn

    I have been noticing from this weeks phone calls that trend may be emerging in the bay area. Bentgrass. It is now being requested by homeowners as their lawn of choice. Some of these customers have gone online to research its characteristics. We here at very seldom sell Bentgrass to homeowners unless it is to create a putting green for their own yard. This got me to thinking, what might the reason be.

    Campaigning, who is telling people this is a good residential lawn for CA. Perhaps the lawn maintenance person who cares for your lawn would like to take a few more weekly hours on your lawn because of its high maintenance qualities. Then in one case there was a friend who recommended it after putting in their own yard. Very nice, the weather is cool enough currently, but during out blistering summer heat stretches, this poor lawn will require much more water than a traditional fescue lawn. Higher water bills in the future for you also. So unless you feel the utmost desire to be totally devoted to your lawn and its needs, perhaps we  can  help you choose a type of lawn better adapted for your lifestyle.

    I have left a link here to those wonderful geniuses at UC Davis whom have already filtered out the characteristics of Bentgrass. Feel free to read up on it for yourself.

  • Damaging Root Diseases of Turf

    by John C. Fech and Roch E. Gaussoin; Sports Filed Management Magazine Apr/May 2011

    Those of us here in the office who deal with customer service are always looking for information on how to describe a disease that may have shown up in your lawn. This article by these gentlemen has created a general overview that was helpful to us here at SodLawn. Though this article is aimed at the turf care professionals, almost all of us can glean some information to apply to our residential and commercial turf.


    • Summer Patch
    • Necrotic Ring
    • Spring Dead Spot
    • Leaf Spot
    • Pythium Blight
    • Nematodes

    --->>> Click here to download the PDF of Damaging Root Diseases <<<---

  • Biostimulants: A New Wave for Fertilizers

    As I was browsing through a green industry magazine, I stumbled on this article from IRRIGATION & GREEN INDUSTRY, with no author credited. This article appealed to my sense of frugality when it comes applying nitrogen based fertilizers on our precious loam that produces food for our state and nation.
    To make a long story short, the theory behind this application produces healthier plants, (namely your lawn) with less fertilizer. And also increases carbon in the soil to fight global warming. Sounds like a win-win for everyone! A better planet through better chemistry, gee these guys are smart.
    Give the article a read, and be on the lookout for up and coming trend in fertilizers.
    Biostimulants: A New Wave for Fertilizers

  • Mowing your Lawn and "Grasscycling"

    I love the boys and girls that are in the UC system! (University of California)  I found this wonderful article by Ali Harvivandi and Victor A. Gibeault about “Mowing Your Lawn and Grasscycling”.  It is very informative and full of useful tidbits for you.  Follow the link to the PDF publication.

    Mowing your Lawn and “Grasscycling”

    This article covers

    • How High to Mow
    • When to Mow
    • What to Do with the Clippings
    • and more

    Give it a read through!

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